Measures taken to protect rare plant colony

Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 11:50 AM.

Telephus spurge is protected under Florida law. It is illegal to dig, damage, transport or sell this perennial herb, which the USFW lists as a threatened species.

Telephus spurge is threatened due to development and wildfire suppression.

The plant thrives in disturbed areas like power line easements and in pine forest with an open canopy. Populations tend to appear after a wildfire or a disturbance like mowing, and dwindle as taller plants increase in number.

The newly discovered group of plants is located in an area of scrub adjacent to a wetland.

Walton and Doyle said this is not the only unknown colony of telephus spurge they have found during their power easement survey, but is by far the largest, and possibly the second largest known colony in existence.

Populations are also known to exist in Box R.

The spurge was first described by famed Apalachicola botanist Alvan Chapman in 1860. It has a male and female form and a large tuberous root that allows it to persist in times of drought. It can grow to be 12 inches tall. It has several stems and waxy foliage with cuplike reddish-green flowers that appear from April through August.

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